According to Professor Marcello Spinella of Richard Stockton College, New Jersey, plants that have a memory-enhancing effect – known as nootropic agents – include Ginkgo biloba and Panax ginseng. ‘Specific extracts of Ginkgo biloba tested in clinical trials have demonstrated an improvement in thinking skills, speed of mental processing and short-term memory when used on an ongoing basis,’ says Ferreira. ‘Ginkgo biloba also has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that may be beneficial in boosting memory and slowing the progression of memory problems associated with dementia.’
Bacopa monnieri has been used for over 2 000 years in Ayurvedic medicine to promote longevity and improve memory and cognitive function. Seven clinical trials in India since the 1960s and two recent trials at the Brain Sciences Institute in Australia proved that the specific extract CDRI 08 did indeed improve cognitive functioning in adults.
‘Additional herbal supplements that may boost memory include green tea, rosemary and curcumin, although clinical studies confirming the cognitive benefits of these specific herbs are lacking,’ according to homeopath Dr Juanita Ferreira.